Rawls Byrd ES could be renamed in 2017

WYDaily.com is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

(WJCC Schools)
(WJCC Schools)

Rawls Byrd Elementary School could get a new name in time for the 2017-2018 school year if the WJCC School Board adopts a proposed timeline for the name change Tuesday night.

The school board agreed during its May 24 meeting to begin the process of changing the name. The decision was made after some former WJCC students and community members campaigned for a name change.

They recall Rawls Byrd, the WJCC Schools superintendent from 1928 to 1964, as a vocal segregationist who kept the schools separated by race for 10 years after the Supreme Court declared racial segregation unconstitutional.

The WJCC School Division administration is recommending a process that begins with forming a naming committee this month. The committee, which would include division-wide staff, Rawls Byrd staff, parents of current Rawls Byrd students and two at-large community members, would be tasked with bringing three potential names to the School Board.

The committee would meet this fall and present its initial report and recommendations to the school board in January 2017.

The school board would then determine a process for choosing the name—potentially through a survey or public hearings—and vote on the name by March 2017.

From May to July operations staff would change the name on school signage and other materials. The school would open under the new name in September 2017.

“Given the desire to involve the school community in the renaming process, as well as the very specific rules regarding polling places, the recommendation is for a process that will result in a new name for the school beginning in the 2017-18 school year,” Betsy Overkamp-Smith, WJCC spokeswoman, wrote in an email to WYDaily.

Rawls Byrd Elementary School is a polling place for the upcoming general election.

The school board adopted its first ever policy for naming schools during its July 12 meeting. The policy permits future schools to be named only for individuals who have been deceased for more than 10 years.

Related Coverage: